A fully-restored Victorian funeral parlour is set to take pride of place in a ghoulish tourist trail through Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter.
City planners are recommending approval for a £3.4 million scheme to turn the former Newman Coffin Works into a museum and visitor centre.
The three-storey Grade II*-listed building in Fleet Street dates from 1892 and once employed 100 people making metal coffin fittings and shrouds. If Government approval for the project is given, key areas of the coffin works including the shroud room, stamp room and offices will be returned to their 19th century splendour.
Council planning officer Liz Ellis said the museum would be a unique visitor attraction in the UK.
The building will eventually form part of a guided tour dubbed the Dark Trail, where visitors will also be able to visit St Paul’s Church and Key Hill and Warstone Lane cemeteries.
Planning committee chairman Peter Douglas Osborn added: “This is a very interesting development and will be a major feature of the new trail being organised by the city, which i know many people are looking forward to experiencing. We are preserving and bringing back into use the heritage of Birmingham.”
Key Hill cemetery was opened in 1836 and is populated by some of Birmingham most famous sons, including Joseph Chamberlain and John Henderson, the man who built Crystal Palace.
Catacombs at Warstone Lane are said to have been used for temporary housing during the Second World War.
The Newman Coffin Works was one of only three remaining coffin furniture manufacturers in England when the trend away from burials towards cremations forced is closure in 1999.
Attempts by the Birmingham Conservation Trust to bring the building back into public use were boosted by a £1.5 million donation from Advantage West Midlands, the regional development agency.
AWM bought and preserved the former coffin works in 2002 and the site featured on the BBC’s Restoration programme.